Archives – October, 2011

Transit marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month

ASHEVILLE – Asheville Transit drivers proudly wore pink on Oct. 21 – either a shirt, a pin or a ribbon – to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time to reflect on a disease that affects about 1 in 8 women in the United States over the course of a lifetime.

Doors to the buses featured a Susan G. Komen for the Cure decal and each of the columns outside the Transit Center on Coxe Avenue was adorned with a pink ribbon.

“We wanted to do something to highlight this disease, which affects so many women and their families,” said Transit General Manager Norman Schenck. “Even raising a little more awareness is a good thing.”

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, except for skin cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. It is also the second leading cause of cancer death in women, exceeded only by lung cancer.

Schenck was very pleased with his staff’s enthusiasm on Friday morning.

“I haven’t see a driver yet without a pin or a pink shirt.”

To learn more about breast cancer or other cancers, visit

Leave a Comment October 24, 2011

New community center honors pastor’s legacy

The Rev. Wesley Grant, Sr. stands with his choir at Worldwide Missionary Baptist Tabernacle, 97 Choctaw St. He founded the church and served there for nearly 50 years. Grant, who was born in 1915, died in 2007. The City of Asheville is recognizing his legacy by naming its newest community center after him.

ASHEVILLE – In an atmosphere of cheers, love and celebration, the City of Asheville on Thursday night dedicated its newest community recreation space, The Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Center, in recognition of a great local leader and an historic cultural neighborhood.

The center was standing-room only as city leaders, community partners and many members of the Grant family gave thanks for the collaborations that made the event possible.

It is the first community center built in the city since the Montford Center in 1974.

No one was more excited than the Rev. Louis Grant, who was overjoyed to dedicate “something in the legacy of my dear old dad.”

Louis Grant opened the evening’s dedication by asking everyone to give a rousing cheer — which they did.

“Now we see a big, bright light in the Southside community,” he said. “Lord God, we say thank you for this celebration.”

Wesley Grant, Sr. was a prominent leader in Asheville’s African American community during the Civil Rights era and Asheville’s urban renewal in the 1960s and 1970s. He founded the Worldwide Missionary Baptist Tabernacle Church in 1959 and served there for nearly 50 years.

He was born Jan. 31, 1915 in Sumter, S.C. and was a resident of Asheville for 75 years. He died in early 2007, leaving a legacy that included not only building a strong family at home and at church, but also working to achieve strides such as the election of Ruben Daley as the first African American Asheville city council member in 1969.

He attended Shaw University Extension Classes, Shaw University Summer Convention Classes, and received Honorary Doctorates from Covington Theological Seminary and Emmanuel Theological Seminary.

The center’s name also recognizes the Southside community, a large geographic area that once surrounded the new center. Southside was a predominately African American community of businesses, churches and neighborhoods that were for the most part demolished during Asheville’s urban renewal.

It is also the city’s first LEED certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) “green building,” demonstrating city government’s commitment to environmental stewardship and social responsibility.

“Our city council had the vision and foresight to want to build a center that not only serves the community, but that is also a model of sustainability,” said Roderick Simmons, director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts.

Some of the LEED features include a green roof, geo-thermal heating and cooling, storm water runoff management, and natural interior lighting. During construction, more than 75 percent of all construction waste was diverted from the landfill and recycled.

Mayor Terry Bellamy officiated Thursday’s event, noting many of the people who made this first phase of the center, the Cultural Art phase, a reality.

“Everybody who gave any money, any talent, any time – I want to recognize everybody who gave to this effort. I’m proud of you,” she said.

The Cultural Art phase of the center is 7,897 square-feet and features an auditorium, three classrooms, office space, storage, and parking.

The Physical Activity Phase will be constructed next and will include a gymnasium, a spray ground, playground, and a section of the Town Branch Greenway.

The Community Phase will be the final piece of the project and will include space for community partner operations.

Future phases will be constructed as funding becomes available.

The center was designed by Mathews Architecture, P.A. and built by H&M Constructors.

The $2.9 million center construction was funded by a number of contributors including the Eaton Charitable Fund, Glass Foundation, Janirve Foundation, Junior League of Asheville, the Raise the Roof at the Reid Community Campaign and the City of Asheville. Construction of the new center matches priority goals for each funder in that it serves children and their families, and provides a strategic public facility for the Asheville community.

During the dedication ceremony, Geoff Ferland, of the Asheville Parks and Greenways Foundation, presented city leaders with a check for $2,075 in personal donations from foundation members to kickstart the “splashpad” element of the Physical Activity phase.

Mildred Nance-Carson, chair of The Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Center’s board, thanked attendees for sharing in the event.

“I’m so glad to see you all, but even more glad to see each and every one of the Grant family,” she said. “We are here to honor a man who set a foundation not only for his family, but for the many families he touched. We worked hard for this.”

City leaders, partners, donors, program speakers and members of the Grant family cut the ribbon to the mark the center's official opening.

A youngster stands outside the new community center, the city's first to be built since 1974.

The Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Center's dedication ceremony was met by a capacity crowd.

To view more photos from the dedication, click here.

*Top photo credit:

Photo credit: Heritage of Black Highlanders Collection, UNC Asheville Ramsey Library

Rev. Wesley Grant, Sr:  bhcP77.

4 Comments October 14, 2011

APD promotes newest sergeant

ASHEVILLE – The Asheville Police Department on Friday celebrated the promotion of Scott C. Pruett to the rank of sergeant.

Pruett has served at APD since 1992. He had previously been a member of the high-profile Traffic Safety Unit, where he eventually led as acting sergeant for several months before assuming acting supervisor duties in the Patrol Division.  He is also a member of the department’s Motorcycle Unit.

Pruett will now supervise a team of day-shift officers in West Asheville.

Interim Chief Wade Wood said he was honored to promote Pruett, with whom he has worked since their early days at APD.

“I wish you the best,” Wood said.

Pruett said he was very moved by the turnout of people to share in his promotion – among them family, co-workers and colleagues from other agencies.

“I am grateful to each and every one of you,” he said.

Scott Pruett takes his oath to become an Asheville police sergeant. His wife Tera holds the Bible, as their son Sean looks on.

Sgt. Scott Pruett's wife Tera pins on his APD sergeant badge at his Oct. 7 promotion ceremony.

APD Interim Chief Wade Wood congratulates Sgt. Scott Pruett on his promotion at a ceremony held Oct. 7.

APD Interim Chief Wade Wood congratulates Sgt. Scott Pruett on his promotion.[/caption]

Leave a Comment October 10, 2011

City offers more frequent leaf collection

ASHEVILLE – In an effort to address community concerns, conserve costs and improve water quality, changes to the brush and leaf collection program were submitted as part of the budget that was adopted by City Council on May 24.

As of July 1, the frequency of brush and bagged leaf collection changed from once per month to twice per month.

Here’s how the program works:

Monday and Tuesday trash customers will have brush collected the first and third week of each month. Brush for Wednesday and Thursday trash customers will be collected the second and fourth week of the month.

Brush collection will continue to occur on a scheduled week and not a specific day. Residents should make sure brush is out for collection by 7 a.m. on the Monday of their collection week.

Brush should be cut to four feet in length and six inches in diameter. Crews ask that residents do not mix trash, debris, garden waste, weeds, vines, construction materials, leaves or dirt with their brush or bagged leaves. For the safety of crews, thorny trimmings should be placed in a separate pile.

Another change is the elimination of loose leaf collection by vacuum trucks.

All leaves must be bagged for collection.  The city will provide large leaf bags to residents on a first come first served basis; bags will be available at local fire stations in October.

“Moving to bagged leaf collection only will both save money and help improve water quality since loose leaves often clog storm drains,” Public Works Director Cathy Ball said.

New brush and bagged leaves collection schedules have been mailed to residents and can also be viewed and downloaded at

For more information, call 828-251-1122 or visit

Leave a Comment October 6, 2011

Film Festival brings local fare to movie lovers

ASHEVILLE – This year’s Asheville Film Festival: “A Day at the Movies” celebrated productions that were filmed in and around the Asheville area.

The one-day, free event showcased “Patch Adams,” “28 Days” and “In Dreams.”

Sam Powers, director of Economic Development and of the Asheville Civic Center, described the festival as “a way to fulfill the Civic Center’s mission to [serve] the community at-large.”

“Patch Adams,” starring Robin Williams, was the first movie of the day. The 1998 comedy-drama is based of the life story of Dr. Hunter “Patch” Adams and his untraditional approach to practicing medicine. Adams founded The Gesundheit! Institute, which its website describes as “a project in holistic medical care based on the belief that one cannot separate the health of the individual from the health of the family, the community, the world, and the health care system itself.”

Professional movie location scout Michael Bigham talks about his work on "Patch Adams," as industry colleague Pam Lewis looks on.

Michael Bigham, an Asheville-based film location scout, greeted moviegoers at the first film. He worked on “Patch Adams,” as well as “The Last of the Mohicans,” “Forrest Gump” and “Hannibal,” among others.

“Patch Adams” filmed on the grounds of the Biltmore Estate, and several scenes of the Appalachian Mountains were shot off the Blue Ridge Parkway on Elk Mountain Highway in Asheville.

Bigham said he very much enjoyed his experience on the “Patch Adams” set.

“Out of all the movies that I have done, Patch Adams was the most fun,” he said. “The people that work, like the director and the assistant director, and especially Robin, can make something fun or arduous. Because of the amount of hours you put in to make a movie, it’s a lot better when it’s pleasant than when it’s not.”

The second movie featured was 2000’s “28 Days,” starring Sandra Bullock as an alcoholic forced to choose between jail or rehab. It was filmed largely at a Black Mountain conference center that stands in as the rehabilitation facility in the movie.

Commentary was done by Lee Nesbitt-Madison who has been in the film industry for more than 30 years and who has worked on movies such as “Smokey and the Bandit” and “The Hunt for Red October.”

The final film was “In Dreams,” a 1999 psychological thriller starring Robert Downey Jr.  and Annette Bening, filmed in part at Fontana Dam. Commentary was provided by Pam Lewis, current director of entrepreneurship at the Asheville Area Chamber of commerce and former director of the WNC Film Office. She has assisted with recruitment and fulfillment on projects such as “My Fellow Americans,” “28 Days” and “Digging to China.”

Leave a Comment October 5, 2011

APD hosts ‘Night to Unite’ for community

ASHEVILLE – Despite a cold fall night, the Asheville Police Department held its Night to Unite event at Martin Luther King Jr. Park on Oct. 1.

Night to Unite brings residents and police officers together to discuss concerns and issues that may be happening in neighborhoods.

During "Night to Unite," residents and police came together to share ideas and concerns, as well as to get to know each other better.

Officers gathered at the park and set up tables that offered information on various crime related topics that they respond to, such as graffiti, break-ins, or gang related issues.

Crime Prevention Officer Allen Dunlap talks about the importance of police and the community uniting to solve issues.

“We have invited the people to come here and learn what we do as a department and learn about ways we can work together to resolve their problems,” said APD Crime Prevention Officer Allen Dunlap.

Allen Brailsford, a member of the APD’s Citizens Police Advisory Committee, agreed.

He said the event is “an opportunity to get information about the police department and what other (city) departments do and how they contribute to the neighborhoods.”

This event featured activities for everyone. There was food, games, and lively conversation.

Mary Smith, of Kenilworth, brought her grandson to show support for the department and to teach him about its purpose. Her grandson was one of the big raffle winners of the day, taking home a bicycle, which he rode all the way to their car as they left.

“Yes, he’s excited,” she said, laughing.

Mary Smith's grandson was a lucky raffle winner. Here, he poses with his prize.

Leave a Comment October 4, 2011

APD takes on SHP in charity football game

UPDATED: 10/3, 3:30 p.m.:

Due to a last-minute scheduling conflict, Rep. Heath Shuler will be unavailable for Sunday’s game. An updated date and time for the game will be released as soon as possible.

ASHEVILLE – At 2 p.m. on Oct. 9, employees of the Asheville Police Department and the N.C. Highway Patrol will face off at T.C. Roberson High School in their third annual flag football game to raise money for Eblen Charities.

Celebrity quarterbacks Brad Johnson and Heath Shuler will steer the teams, with Johnson leading APD and Shuler leading the Highway Patrol.

Tickets are $3.

All proceeds will benefit Eblen, a community organization that helps thousands of families in Western North Carolina meet their medical and emergency assistance needs.

For more information about Eblen Charities, visit:

APD quarterback Brad Johnson directs an officer during the 2010 APD-SHP charity game to raise money for Eblen Charities. The teams will face off again on Sunday.

Heath Shuler volunteered his expertise as a quarterback to lead the Highway Patrol in last year's charity game against APD. The teams came together to raise money for Eblen Charities.

Leave a Comment October 3, 2011

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